Cross The Sky, a Barnsley based theatre company for adults with learning disabilities and autism, had the shock of their lives recently when, during a rehearsal, pop star Kylie Minogue turned up to surprise them and ‘super fan’ musical director Simon.
The surprise Barnsley visit will be broadcast on Channel 4 this Christmas Day as part of Kylie’s Secret Night, a one-off show celebrating Kylie and her fans - a 90 minute programme hosted by Alan Carr.
Kylie said of her Channel 4 show: “This was such an incredible show. It made me laugh, it made me cry. It was like time stood still and I was able to hear some amazing fan stories, reminisce and really take stock of the journey we’ve been on together. All in all, a wonderful celebration, and a reminder of what a privilege it is to be able to connect with people over time and borders and to inspire me to do it all again!”
Cross The Sky caught the singer’s attention after sending her a video of the group rehearsing her 2018 hit 'Dancing' on Twitter as part of their vocal and music training. The star retweeted the video to her 2.8 million worldwide followers with an inspirational message encouraging the group to 'Keep up the great work guys❤️❤️❤️!' The video has been viewed around the world and the company have received lots of messages of support from Kylie fans.
Speaking after Kylie's unexpected visit Simon Grainger said: "What a wonderful surprise, we’re all still on Cloud Nine after Kylie’s visit. It meant so much to us all and was such a special afternoon. Having the opportunity to sing some of the group’s favourite Kylie songs with the lady herself was truly a dream come true and an afternoon we will treasure for the rest of our lives."
As well as developing key performing arts skills, Cross The Sky also write and perform original songs and theatre work. Their new production, ‘Up in the Attic’, is inspired by personal experiences of autism. It tells the story of a man who goes on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance as he learns to let go of his childhood and to embrace his independent adult life. The coming-of-age story incorporates Gothic horror and original songs developed through improvisation workshops exploring disability pride.
Cross The Sky is a project of Barnsley Civic who programme a year-round arts programme, The Civic offers educational and engagement activities with schools and local community groups.
Jason White, Community Engagement Officer at The Civic, said: “There are countless research studies around the impact of culture on our well-being. Cross The Sky is a group we’ve been incredibly proud to support at The Civic, and they are a big part of our commitment to increasing participation in the arts for those at risk of marginalisation and supporting people to reach their potential.”
Simon Grainger added “The support of a global music icon has given Cross The Sky a huge boost. It’s an enormous validation of how anyone with a learning disability can achieve confidence, self-esteem and expression through creativity and the arts. We hope Kylie’s visit inspires audiences to come along and experience our new show in February, which promises to be powerful and uplifting.”
Up In The Attic by Cross the Sky opens at The Civic, Barnsley on 12 February. Tickets are available from www.barnsleycivic.co.uk
Kylie’s Secret Night is on Channel 4 on Christmas Day at 10.30pm. The UK television premiere of Kylie’s Golden Tour will follow at midnight
About Cross the Sky: www.barnsleycivic.co.uk/resident-companies
To book tickets for Up in the Attic civicbarnsley.ticketsolve.com/shows/873614780